Coast Guard, Navy conduct medevac of cruise ship passenger near Hawaii

MH-60 Seahawk helicopter (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Cody

MH-60 Seahawk helicopter File Photo (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Cody M. Deccio)

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard and Navy conducted a medevac of an 83-year-old male Canadian passenger from a 951-foot cruise ship roughly 150 miles north of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Sunday.

A Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew from the Kaneohe Bay-based Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 hoisted the afflicted man from the Emerald Princess and transported him to awaiting emergency services in Queen’s Medical Center. A Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew flew cover to provide support.

“After consultation with the duty flight surgeon it was determined expediency was vital,” said Petty Officer 1st Class James Fangman, a command duty officer with Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “In this case, we were able to call on HSM-37 to conduct the rescue with their MH-60 which has a greater range than our helicopter allowing for a faster transfer to a higher level of medical care. Our partnership with the Navy saves lives and is vital to those on the water in this region.”

At 9 a.m., JRCC Honolulu watchstanders received a call from the master of the cruise ship Emerald Princess stating the passenger was suffering from symptoms of a stroke. A duty flight surgeon was consulted, concurred with the diagnosis and recommended a medevac to a higher level of care. The Emerald Princess diverted toward Hawaii to close the distance and come within range of hoist capable aircraft. Watchstanders worked with Customs and Border Protection to ensure clearance for the foreign passenger to be received in Hawaii.

The Seahawk crew launched at 2:15 p.m. to rendezvous with the Emerald Princess about 180 miles offshore of Hawaii. The Hercules crew deployed from Air Station Barbers Point to provide communications and cover for the operation. The Seahawk crew arrived on the scene at 3:15 p.m., deployed a rescue and response team who successfully hoisted the passenger. The Seahawk then proceeded with the passenger to awaiting emergency services on Oahu.

The weather at the time of the initial distress call was winds of 15 mph and seas of 7 feet.

The HSM-37 Easyriders are the largest expeditionary squadron in the Navy and support all Pearl Harbor-based Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers with a focus on anti-submarine surface warfare. They maintain and fly 15 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

The Coast Guard maintains Hercules airplanes and MH-65 Dolphin helicopters enhancing the readiness of the 14th District with long-range patrol and logistical support capabilities, as well as quick and versatile search and rescue response.

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